Guided Selling: How to Steer Shoppers to the Buy Button
The Guided Selling Opportunity
Personalize the online experience.
Retailers can mimic the store experience on their websites by developing sophisticated guided selling features that blend content and personalization. Business intelligence firm L2 and Salesforce Commerce Cloud found that only 31% of brands in the U.S. employ guided selling in 2014.1 However, a 2014 Forrester survey found that 51% planned to increase spending in guided selling.2 Digital guided selling also presents new opportunities for omni-channel engagement: extending into the four walls of the store experience. One leading cosmetics brand has accomplished just that with its app, which virtually applies different cosmetics and looks to an image of a customer’s face. Shoppers in a drugstore can scan a barcode of each beauty product and have the cosmetic similarly “applied” to the face, enabling shoppers to virtually try before they buy.
Many other retailers are following suit. Read on to learn if guided selling is a potential fit for your business.
What is guided selling?
When should you consider guided selling?
Make a plan.
Where are you today?
Conceptualize with the end result in mind.
Identify key metrics.
Contextualize the purchase.
Project brand personality.
Launch a new product or collection.
Assemble the right team.
Use your in-house team.
Consider outside expertise.
When requirements for design elements and user experience are more complex, engaging visual and user experience designers may provide better results.
The two approaches are not mutually exclusive: A simple in-house tool might be a good proof of concept for investing in a more robust version. Any scenario will require a close, collaborative effort between merchandising, marketing, and IT. The team may call upon additional product expertise resources as well.
Conduct stakeholder interviews.
Sponsors from Senior Management
Increase in Pages Per Visit
More Page Views
Decrease in Bounce Rate
Design the guided selling experience.
1. Keep the initial design high-level.
2. Emulate the best sales associates.
3. Give options for next steps.
4. Choose the best questions to deliver the right user flow.
Each question asked should be concise, with responses that do not overlap and that follow a logical path.
- Employ a flexible flow, allowing users to back up or skip questions. Show progress indicators to ensure you don’t lose users.
- Never use questions that are clearly just for market research — they can torpedo user trust.
- In the case of technical products, different paths for novice and advanced users may make sense: e.g., amateur versus professional photographers, or beginner versus advanced skiers or snowboarders.
Build the Guided Selling Tool.
Begin with site experience.
Include the details.
Test, test, test.
“A tight relationship between the creative and content helps marry form and function to create an engaging flow. Be sure these two groups work together and iteratively for the best result.”
Maximize your return.
Build promotion strategies.
Think about the next step.
Consider additional uses.
Developing a well-designed tool offers ancillary benefits in addition to helping achieve primary goals.
Training: Support consistent messaging during in-store selling, particularly for new sales associate hires.
Customer Feedback Loop: User data captured on search patterns and customer responses can help inform marketing and product strategies.
Begin guided selling.
Online guided selling gives retailers the opportunity to turn a website visit into a long-term customer relationship. By following the best practices discussed in this guide, retailers can create a guided selling tool that shows customers they understand their needs and wishes, and can fulfill them with the product that best suits them. Guided selling, properly executed, creates a positive, sharable experience that distinguishes a brand from its competitors and builds trust that keeps customers loyal. Providing compelling experiences and cultivating loyalty are also winning strategies for differentiation from Amazon.
A special note of thanks to Mark Moskal and Jen Adams of Live Area Labs for sharing their insights in preparing this guide.
Digital Beauty Counter
THE DIGITAL FUTURE:
Spotlight On Cosmetics
Conventional wisdom might hold that some things just aren’t meant to be sold online; items like, say, cosmetics, a historically hightouch sale where customers’ hands are held by experts who help them find just the right shade and demonstrate professional application techniques. However, 72% of U.S. health and beauty brands now offer some form of guided selling on their websites — such as shade matchers for foundation or eyeshadow.3 One leading brand proved conventional wisdom wrong with a pioneering omni-channel approach to cosmetics sales.
Its app uses a smartphone’s front-facing camera to apply different cosmetics and looks to an image of a customer’s face. Taking it a step further, a shopper in a drugstore can scan a barcode of a product and have the cosmetic similarly “applied” to the face, enabling shoppers to virtually try before they buy. This blending (not to mention the app’s “wow” factor) enables the company to create a distinct experience for existing customers while creating an enticing new digital channel for consumers who may be new to the brand.
- 1 “Intelligence Report: Content & Commerce,” L2 Inc. and Demandware, October 23, 2014, p. 38.
- 2 “Refresh Your Approach to 1:1 Marketing: How Real-Time Automation Elevates Personalization,” Forrester Consulting, August 2014, p. 4.
- 3 “Intelligence Report: Content & Commerce,” L2 Inc. and Demandware, October 23, 2014, p. 38.